Due to a lack of a Goodreads-equivalent site for video games, I’m using this page to temporarily house my thoughts on games I play. These reviews will be short and based on my experience with the game, without attempting to think about the game holistically. I’ll try to keep it spoiler free. Goal is a repository for me to keep this stuff in mind. I don’t feel like I can write meaningfully about primarily multiplayer games or games without end, so I probably won’t.
Start date: ~June 2015.
Title – Platform – Genre – Review
Apotheon – PC – Metroidvania – I love this concept: I’m a huge Greek mythology nerd, the voice acting was awesome, the art worked well, etc. etc. I also generally love Metroidvania’s. That said, the gameplay was so bad that I gave up on this one rather quickly. The combat was just extremely frustrating, mostly due to the controls. I tried both KB+M and gamepad. 2/5.
Bioshock Infinite – PC – FPS – I’m really surprised reviews were so mixed on this game – is it that things on rails just automatically get hate in the current climate, especially when the game’s storyline is kind of antagonistic to the concept of rails? Regardless, the storyline had some annoying holes, and the combat was pretty much the same the whole game, but overall a really satisfying experience. 4/5.
Cave Story+ – PC – Platformer Adventure – Just a fun, pleasant, short experience that was really reminiscent of some NES/SNES platformers but with enough modern twists to keep it fast-paced and interesting. Great weapons system. 4/5.
Crysis 2 – PC – FPS – Went into this looking for a generic feel good shoot ’em up, and it just barely accomplished that. They put a lot of weird features in this game that meant almost nothing. Why do I care what the radio chatter of the bad guys is when I can see and tag them anywhere using my tactical vision? When is bullet tracing ever useful? Why is spinning in circles around a big bad guy hitting the melee button repeatedly a viable strategy? Etc., etc. 2.5/5
Dark Souls 2 – PC – Hack n’ Slash Adventure – Some weird stuff with this one. While I played the hell out of it, it didn’t suck me in as much as the first one, and I’m not sure why. Might’ve just been how busy I was while playing it. The bosses are a definite downgrade from the first one, but the rest of it was on par. I greatly appreciated the better explained mechanics. I think the first one is better overall, but I can’t put my finger on why, besides the bosses. The lore is more explicit in this one. I couldn’t bring myself to finish the Shulva DLC area, but I did the others and enjoyed them. 4/5.
Defense Grid 2 – PC – Tower Defense – So I love tower defense games in general, and I especially loved the first Defense Grid, so it’s no surprise that this was a good experience for me overall. That said, I feel like with this sort of game, the main premise of a sequel should be new enemies, new maps, and new towers. DG2 does not really fulfill these desires: one tower has been changed, and one tower enhancement has been added. There were some new enemies, but they didn’t feel significantly different from what was in the first game, and the removal of air units felt like a step backwards. The maps, too, did not show any real difference from the first game. Finally, the storyline felt like a prequel to something bigger, not something that could stand on its own. The voice acting was great. I spent 15 hours on this game, making it worth the purchase, but it falls far short of the 45 hours I spent on the original game. I feel less compelled to complete all the challenges, mostly due to how little difference there is from the original. 3.5/5.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Director’s Cut) – PC – First-Person Shooter/Stealth – While some of the plot twists could be seen coming from a mile away, overall this game did everything a good FPS should do, I think. The levelling system provided incentives to get experience and backtrack to see what you missed by not having certain abilities. The variety of approaches to combat situations was interesting and felt very organic. The voice acting, graphics, and projected vision of the future were all wonderfully done. As a lot of reviews noted, the bosses were lackluster and felt out of place with the rest of the game (even with the Director’s Cut), and the mechanic of losing your abilities in the Missing Link DLC section went on too long but just an overall solid experience. 4.5/5.
Dishonored – PC – FPS Stealth – Story, world-building, atmosphere, and environment were all top-notch. Biggest disappointment in this game is that it encouraged you to go nonlethal, but ~80% of the abilities are lethal, so if you play it nonlethal then you don’t get to enjoy the cooler gadgets/abilities. It also got pretty samey in terms of gameplay at the end. 3.5/5.
DmC (Remake) – PC – Third-Person Hack-and-Slash – The story, the characters, and the dialogue are pretty terrible. Plot holes, melodrama, lack of logic, etc. etc. The combat, though, is really solid, and I had a blast with my playthrough. The extra stuff to find during levels feels like the right level of difficulty. Not sure I would ever want to go for completionist, but yeah. 4/5.
Final Fantasy XIII – 360 – JRPG – I played the hell out of the first FF and two released on SNES in America, then got to do a playthrough of FF7 on a friend’s Playstation, but since then I hadn’t touched the series. With this one, I loved the world building, the graphics, and I thought the combat system was appropriately challenging. However, the upgrade system was atrociously complicated, the dialogue made me cringe constantly because of how melodramatic it was, and there were quite a few gaps in the plot that bothered me. Also, while the combat system was more challenging than a turn-based game that pauses, it was frustrating for manual casting to be very hampered by how little time you have to make decisions, meaning automated was generally way more efficient. 3/5.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 – 360 – JRPG – The sequel fixed the campy dialogue and the bad upgrade system. The inclusion of the ability to have monsters in your party was interesting and done pretty well. The storyline felt more cohesive than the original, and I liked how some previous characters (Hope, Lightning, Vanille, and Fang) were tied in. It had its problems as well: equipment felt pretty meaningless, the Crystarium was more complicated without making it better, Sazh and Snow’s cameos felt too shoehorned, and some areas had massive fluctuations in difficulties of encounters. That said, solid improvement from the original. 3.5/5.
Gone Home – PC – Interactive Story, First-Person Exploration – First off, it’s a very short experience, and it doesn’t have any game-like elements besides exploring a house. Keep that in mind before recommending/purchasing. Beyond that, though, I loved it. I think it told a super compelling story, it wrapped up in the time-length of a movie, and the audio was SO GOOD. 5/5.
Life is Strange – PC – Interactive Story – This seems like a game I should’ve loved. The music was top notch, the graphics were great, and the skeleton of the story seemed good. But, try as I could, I just could not get past the dialogue. I only made it through two episodes. I hear it gets better. I might finish it some other time.
Mass Effect 3 – 360 – TPS RPG – Loved this game, right up until the ending. Like a lot of novels, if your story gets too big, it’s often impossible to have any kind of satisfying ending, and I guess that’s what happened here. The writing is really, really good. The Renegade options seem more immature/antagonistic than cold/calculating, which makes them super unattractive to me. Gameplay on the middle setting was pretty easy. 4/5.
Metroid Prime 2 – WiiU (eShop) – First-person adventure – Way too samey from the first one. The stuff they added/changed was not especially fun. I still played through it, hoping it would get better. It didn’t. 2.5/5.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – PC – Action, Open World – Really satisfying combat, travel/physics, and voice acting. Story was shallow but sufficient for the main game. That said, the game never really changes what you’re doing from when it starts until the end, so it gets pretty repetitive despite the good gameplay. The DLC is mainly more of the same, meaning I didn’t really want to play it once I finished the main game. 4/5.
Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) – PC – Platformer, Documentary-hybrid – So, it’s really cool what this game did by splicing in a documentary about Native Alaskans. The artwork and the narration are also lovely. Unfortunately, the gameplay is just not fun. The controls and the two character aspects are clunky and the puzzles are more tedious than challenging or interesting. 2/5.
Pikmin 3 – Wii U – RTSish Puzzle Game – Really liked the novelty of this game, both in terms of the artistic direction and the gameplay. I was a little disappointed in how short the single player was–I finished it in 9 hours, collecting most but not all of the fruit. Fortunately this game has been republished as a Nintendo Selects so it’s no longer absurdly expensive. I haven’t tried the Missions yet, but don’t have a strong desire to play more of it right now. 4/5.
The Stanley Parable – PC – Interactive Story, First-Person Exploration – Meta-game, commentary on choices and decisions and impossible for me to say more without giving stuff away. Very short. Very funny and just wickedly smart. 5/5.
To the Moon – PC – Interactive Story, Top-Down Point-and-Click – Little/no actual gameplay like Gone Home, but still a riveting storytelling experience. Really wonderful, emotional soundtrack. Riffs on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Tearjerker. 5/5, but the DLC are not worth playing. (Maybe they’re going to add more? I played two episodes.)
The Witcher 3 – PC – Over the Shoulder Action RPG – This game set a record for most game-of-the-year awards, with good reason. My one, tiny criticism is that the game becomes repetitive if you do all of the open-world content, but there’s no reason to do all of it, so yeah. Also, the combat is a little simplistic, so I’d recommend playing it one of the hardest two difficulties to give it some stakes. 5/5.
The Wolf Among Us – PC – Interactive Story, Dialogue/QTEs – Had a really hard time getting into the first two episodes for some reason, but once I finished the second one I blew through the rest. I loved being able to see how my decisions compared to everyone else’s. I think it worked okay that you never knew which decisions were important. The game did an awesome job of making you unsure about who to trust or how to proceed. My only complaint is that the artwork is way better than the comic books which kills my desire to read them, and that the Bloody Mary interaction toward the end didn’t make any sense. 4.5/5.